Six Nonverbal Attention-Getting Techniques

Kambria Johnson

Six nonverbal methods for commanding attention

We command attention for the wrong reasons on occasion, and often without conscious effort, and find ourselves darting around conversationally, nervously backtracking, thinking quickly on our feet of ways to restore equilibrium, and wishing it was possible to simply disappear.

Furthermore, no matter what we say or how we position ourselves, physically and emotionally poised to deliver relevant ideas or news, no one takes what we have to say seriously, and worse, they look elsewhere or talk amongst themselves as we earnestly present our pearls of wisdom.

Some of us appear to be invisible in small groups, and have you ever noticed that there is always someone who commands levels of positive attention far out of proportion to their ability to seriously contribute?

Fundamentally, confident people command attention, and here’s the thing: intelligence isn’t a factor. Assuming we have knowledge, there are certain physical actions we can take to influence the subconscious minds of others in such a way that they sit up and listen, as well as extremely subtle signals you can begin to observe in others, which we call “tells.” This will assist you in determining how your ideas and insights, proposals and requests are received. Your audience may say one thing, but their body language says something completely different.

1. Enter their domain.

Meet others in their space if you are charismatic and self-assured. It is critical to be client-focused, so when meeting someone for the first time, go ahead and shake their hand first, not the other way around.

2. Maintain physical stillness

Moving less is a simple yet effective rule of thumb to follow if you want to appear more confident and command attention. The primal knowledge behind this is simple: those who have the most to fear are constantly scanning their surroundings for predators, while those who have less to fear remain physically calm.

When we speak, some of us have a habit of moving our heads too much. If the speaker’s head is still or moves slowly, it indicates that he or she is serious, confident, and authoritative. Continuously moving one’s head with constant ducking and darting eye movements denotes someone in danger and of lower status.

3. Exude confidence to elevate your standing.

The term “status” was mentioned earlier. Here’s a word of caution: being perceived as having a higher status than your boss, colleagues, or clients isn’t always a good thing. Being considered of lower status, on the other hand, can be detrimental to your success. Be mindful of others and the situation you are in before purposefully manipulating your perceived status to command attention, and then determine the appropriate level to benefit you the most.

Our third tip is deceptively simple but extremely effective. You can change how others perceive you both consciously and subconsciously by making small changes to your body language. Modifying your physiology, or simply acting more confident than you feel, will cause others to perceive you as self-assured, and you will become more confident. Fake it until you make it.

4. Take care of your hands

How we use our hands when interacting with others reveals a lot about how we perceive ourselves, but most of us don’t think about the messages we’re sending.

We have a high level of personal confidence if we are speaking from behind a desk with our palms facing down on it. If you choose to use this action, show your palms occasionally to avoid being perceived as controlling or overbearing.

To command attention and appear more confident when making presentations, avoid placing your hands in the palm up position, which, while indicating trustworthiness and honesty, also demonstrates a lack of power and authority. Keep an eye out for this in others and observe their palms up as they explain themselves and seek acceptance of their ideas, rather than controlling the conversation.

If you mostly use palms up gestures while speaking, start interspersing slightly more palms down movements; this subconsciously informs others that you are confident, in control, open, and likable.

5. Use a “finger pinch hold.”

If you attend sales seminars or any other event where you must listen to a professionally trained speaker, you will notice the use of the finger pinch hold on occasion. (thumb and first finger together) This strong hand gesture conveys confidence, status, and authority. It is also used to emphasize particularly important points made verbally.

6. Consider Roger Moore’s Bond.

Raising your brows in front of others indicates that you are friendly, open, and, as a result, confident. It is a direct request for others’ attention. You are demanding attention and a response if you move your head slowly on a single plane and then look at someone while raising your eyebrows.

Before attempting these techniques in important meetings, it is a good idea to practice them with friends and colleagues. Try one technique at a time until it becomes second nature, and remember that commanding attention requires planning. Best wishes.